Why The Queen's Gambit Cast Seems So Familiar

Let's take a closer look at the incredibly talented cast of The Queen's Gambit, which is nominated for Outstanding Limited Or Anthology Series at the 2021 Emmys.

By Alyssa Ray Sep 19, 2021 1:00 AMTags
Watch: 2021 Emmy Awards: By the Numbers

"Let's play."

The final quote of Netflix's The Queen's Gambit has sat with us long after we've digested the cast's tour de force performances. As E! readers surely know, The Queen's Gambit follows Beth Harmon (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) as she transforms from stoic orphan to cutthroat chess player.

On learning chess for the role, Anya told Seth Meyers, "I had to learn, like, understand chess for myself because I felt that people care about it so much that I couldn't just show up and not understand the theory of it. But the theory and then applying that theory are two very different things."

The drama series is based off Walter Tevis' 1983 novel of the same name, and is a hit among critics.

Anya won the Best Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie award at the 2021 Golden Globes and the Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or Television Movie prize at the 2021 Screen Actors Guild Awards. Next up? Anya is nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Or Anthology Series or Movie category for the 2021 Emmys.

And this critical acclaim is well deserved, as her performance had us itching to learn chess. Still, the entire cast—which includes Bill Camp, Marielle Heller, Harry Melling, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Moses Ingram and more—pulled out stellar performances.

2021 Emmys Parties: Star Sightings

Case in point: Not only is The Queen's Gambit up for Outstanding Limited Or Anthology Series at the Emmys, but Moses and Thomas are both nominated in supporting categories.

Back when we consumed the Netflix mini-series, we found ourselves laughing, crying and Googling where we've seen these performers before. And, following our Internet search, we discovered interesting tidbits about the cast of The Queen's Gambit.

We're talking a Harry Potter alum, a Tony-nominated actor, a Yale School of Drama Graduate and the little boy from Love Actually. Furthermore, co-creator Scott Frank had several actors from his hit Western mini-series Godless appear in The Queen's Gambit.

So, if you're like us and curious about where you've seen The Queen's Gambit cast before, scroll through the images below.

Anya Taylor-Joy

In The Queen's Gambit, Anya Taylor-Joy played orphan chess prodigy Beth Harmon, who overcame adversity, while wearing fierce fashion, to become the world's greatest chess player. While Anya's performance in Queen's Gambit is breathtaking, this isn't the first time that she's impressed on the screen.

Earlier in 2020, Anya impressed as the titular character in Emma and as Illyana Rasputina/Magik in The New Mutants. You may also recognize Anya from The Witch, Split, Thoroughbreds and more.

We're certainly excited to see what she does next.

Bill Camp

As Mr. Shaibel, Bill Camp portrayed Beth Harmon's first chess teacher, a custodian at her home for girls. Stoic, yet understanding, Mr. Shaibel was the only father figure Beth had. Thus, he definitely deserved way more credit, but that's a discussion for another day.

Now, if the actor playing Mr. Shaibel seems familiar to you, that's because you've probably seen him in one of his countless film and TV projects. He's best known for his roles in Lincoln, 12 Years a Slave, Loving, Joker, Molly's Game, Vice, HBO's The Night Of and more.

Oh, and he also earned a Tony nomination for his work in 2016's revival of The Crucible.

Harry Melling

Local chess champion Harry Beltik, played by Harry Melling, became Beth's roommate and friend after she defeated him in her first tournament. Sweet, smart and steadfast, we found ourselves rooting for Harry as he pursued Beth as a lover and a trainer.

This character is the complete opposite of Dudley Dursley, whom Harry played in the Harry Potter movies. Yep, Harry played Daniel Radcliffe's character's brutish bully and cousin.

Other acting credits include The Lost City of Z, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The Old Guard and The Devil All the Time.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Another one of Beth's boys. In the series, fellow chess champion Benny Watts, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster, took Beth under his wing and taught her everything he knew about strategy, speed chess and more.

As Benny was the bad-boy of the chess world, it's safe to say that his chemistry with Beth was undeniable.

So, where do we know this actor from? A whole lot.

A former child actor, Thomas is best known for starring in Love Actually, Nanny McPhee and Phineas and Ferb. In adulthood, Thomas has found continued success with acting credits including Game of Thrones, The Maze Runner, Bright Star, Nowhere Boy, Godless and more.

Marielle Heller

In The Queen's Gambit, Marielle Heller played Mrs. Alma Wheatley, a troubled woman who adopts Beth and eventually becomes her manager. Although the actress may not be familiar to you, her work probably is!

Marielle is a celebrated filmmaker who has directed The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me? and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. She also directed the 2020 filmed play, What the Constitution Means to Me.

Moses Ingram

For Moses Ingram, The Queen's Gambit is her breakout role. Playing Beth's childhood friend Jolene, Moses gave a dynamic performance, which isn't surprising as she's a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

While we don't recognize Moses from her previous credits, we're keeping our eyes on this one. Why? Because she's appearing in the upcoming, star-studded Macbeth film, which will also features her Queen Gambit co-star Harry Melling.

Marcin Dorociński

Beth's fiercest foe. We're, of course, talking about the Russian world champion Vasily Borgov, played by Marcin Dorociński. Throughout the series, we see Beth training, both in chess and the Russian language, to take down the legend.

The actor who portrayed Borgov gave a subtle performance that oozed steely confidence. Marcin is a Polish actor known for his work in Pitbull, Róża, Spies of Warsaw and more.

Jacob Fortune-Lloyd

The Queen's Gambit had many dashing actors in it, but Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, who portrayed chess player turned journalist Townes, definitely stood out. As Beth's unrequited love, Townes helped awaken Beth's sexual desires.

Prior to his work in The Queen's Gambit, Jacob starred in BBC's Wolf Hall and Medici. Oh, and eagle-eyed Star Wars fans may recognize him as a Sith fleet officer in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Christiane Seidel

In Queen's Gambit, Christiane Seidel portrayed Helen Deardorff, the director of the home for girls where Beth spent her formative years. While Helen first gave off a warm personality, the character was actually very controlling as she prescribed tranquilizers to the students.

You may recognize Christiane if you watched Scott Frank's other Netflix miniseries, Godless. Like other members of The Queen's Gambit cast, she appeared in the Western drama. Other credits include Fosse/Verdon, Boardwalk Empire and Human Capital.

Matthew and Russell Dennis Lewis

More Godless alums!

Twins Matthew and Russell Dennis Lewis portrayed Beth's close friends and fellow chess players in Netflix's The Queen's Gambit.

They previously starred together in Scott Frank's Western drama and an episode of Blue Bloods. Russell also appeared in the 2019 World War II movie, Midway.

Chloe Pirrie

Although Chloe Pirrie wasn't in many scenes, playing Beth's mom Alice Harmon, she certainly made an impression. Despite Alice's mental health struggles, she was charming, intellectual and loved her daughter.

As for the actress who played her, Chloe is best known for her work in 2016's War & Peace, a 2013 Black Mirror episode, The Game, Troy: Fall of a City, season two of The Crown and more. Let's not forget, she also appeared alongside Queen's Gambit lead Anya Taylor-Joy in 2020's Emma.

The Queen's Gambit is streaming on Netflix now.

The 75th Emmy Awards will now air Monday, Jan. 15, 2024 on Fox.